Friday, August 4, 2017

Good much paperwork!

Happy Friday! 

I have to admit, I'm jealous of some of you that are still in 100% summer mode. I hope you continue to enjoy your time off until the very last second possible! 

Unforetnuley, the rest of us are gearing up for back to school season. Prepping our rooms, sweating our caseloads and fighting tooth and nail to get support and resources to make the school year a smidge easier. 

I'm here today to share a new idea I had when sorting through my new caseload this year. I know how overwhelming it can be to be handed a caseload and expect to know the kid before even meeting them. 

***Honest truth right here: When I first began teaching, I was given 14 IEPs (each with a minimum of 35 pages) for my self-contained classroom. I knew the importance of the documents but I was trying to balance remembering passwords for 8 different district programs, policies, and procedures of my new school and district.  I was also trying to survive without any money! I hadn't worked in 8 months due to student teaching and I wouldn't get my first paycheck until a month AFTER school started. etc. etc. You get the picture. Do you think those IEPs were read? 

Sadly no. I skimmed them...if that counts, but couldn't really tell you about each kid.  I was LOST! There was so much info in that pile of paper I didn't know where to start or what was the most important thing to focus on.

Have you felt the same? Or Feeling this way right now? 

If so, hopefully, this workflow sheet will help! Here's what I do: 

  1. Get a paper copy of the IEP or access a copy on your district's IEP application. You will also need to print a copy of my FREE IEP Workflow sheet -one per student. Follow along with the pages until it's filled out. You will have a much more clear picture of the student and understand how to prepare your instruction and classroom setting from the following information: 
  2. Page 1: Student Name is easy if there is a nickname they regularly call the child be sure to note that. If it's not in the IEP, hopefully, the parents will tell you on the BTS survey or you can ask during your initial phone call. It's also a good idea to track communication with parents in case there's an incident later in the year. 
  3. Include DOB. Don't be like me and forget a kids birthday. :( Gosh, it sounds like I'm a horrible teacher....
  4. Include sex of the child.  I skipped over that this summer during ESY. I was shocked when I had a girl show up in my class! **NO JOKE...another embarrassing moment**
  5. School ID is important for attendance, transportation, and meals. 
  6. You need to know Annual and FIE dates to gather data appropriately
  7. Qualifying disabilities.  Most disabilities are going to be fairly common especially primary and secondary qualifications, but if you get to tertiary and quaternary disabilities you may not know what they are. (yes, some of my self-contained learners have 4 disabilities) If you happen to know the rare disability-your support staff may not.  Do some research how disabilities affect learning and behaviors. 
  8. I include the instructional code(IA).  Sometimes coming up from elementary they have my kids in more gen ed time, but at the intermediate school, the rigor jumps so much-my kids benefit more from a special ed resource instead of inclusion. Therefore the IA setting changes. 
  9. Does the student receive transportation services? If so, find out that bus number for AM drop off and PM pickup. Make sure they are where they need to be. If they don't receive transportation services, collaborate with parents for drop-off and pickup. 
  10. Medicaid billing. Due to my students receiving personal care services, we bill for Medicaid funding.  I don't want to skip over a student that can receive Medicaid funding...although our coordinator would track me down if I wasn't billing. 
At this point, I have just verified my student is supposed to be in my self-contained setting based on the above information.  

  1. Now I want to get to know the kiddo by reviewing his FIE, PLAAFPs, Accoms & Mods.  I jot most important info and jot down notes and questions if I need clarification from family or previous staff. 
  2. Page 2: I list all related services the student receives so I know who will be coming in to service the student. 
  3. I NEED to know communication methods.  I can't have the student arriving at school and I'm guessing if they will need signs, visuals, a device or can just adapt to verbal communicating. 
  4. Allergies, medical needs, etc. Include everything you can in here. Check with the nurse and double check with the parents. Asthma, birthmarks, medicine at school, tactile sensitivities, needs food chopped up, can only drink with a straw, gluten free, only eats food from home, lactose intolerant-no milk. I also include hygiene info here. The student is independent in the bathroom, the student is in pull-ups with 15 min timer, the student won't request bathroom, student hates flush of the toilet, the student will overflow sink when not monitored, etc. 
  5. Behavior and BIP. Include as much as you can in here too. Describe what a 'good moment' and a 'meltdown' might look like. List triggers, and supports to help students during a crisis situation. Talk to parents and previous staff. 
  6. Likes and Dislikes. This is another NECESSITY. You can't start the school year without know what the student likes and dislikes.  Talk to previous staff, dig deep into the paperwork, ask the parents before school starts.  If you aren't able to complete any of that-use a reinforcement assessment on the first day and find out what the student will work for.  They usually won't work unless they get paid. I definitely wouldn't work if I didn't get paid (despite how much I love my job.)
Page 3 is a goal grouping sheet. Some of my kids have similar goals.  I group them together so I can plan my lessons more effectively and know which standards or skills I should focus more heavily on. 

After the 1st week of school with the kids, I go back to re-read and make notes on the paperwork trying to answer questions I had from the paperwork. You know....something wasn't described well or info you think is important should be mentioned in the next ARD. I just make a note in case the student moves-the next case manager already has it on hand.

After completing each workflow, I place it in the student's binder that houses all of their work samples and progress reports. 

Whew. That's a lot! I hope that can give you a nice flow of what to look for in IEPs for new kiddos.  Let me know how the workflow sheets work for you during BTS! If you need anything else added or want an editable version, feel free to ask away! 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

IP sped recipes

Hey friends!!

I recently purchased an Instant Pot (I.P.) and have fallen in love with the quick and efficient method of cooking! I can't tell you how many times I've messed up a stove top meal and been so completely frustrated.  I would much rather cook with an oven but in Texas summer heat...I hate to turn it on.

For those of you who don't know, the I.P. is a pressure cooker.  Think of it as a slow cooker on steroids! It cooks perfect food consistently! A whole frozen chicken...BAM! Broth..BAM! Hard boiled eggs...BAM! Cheese cake, yogurt, soup...BAM, BAM, BAM!! You get the picture... It's AMAZING!

After being completely reliant on my I.P. for the first few weeks, I decided to try it during E.S.Y. (extended summer school). We made popcorn and my kids loved it!!! There are quite a few kid friendly recipes out there that are really easy and yummy in the Instant Pot.  I have included a freebie to the Popcorn recipe for you to try with your kiddos!

Free recipe

I would talk with your kiddos before hand and let them know the Instant Pot uses pressure and it is hot, they may hear or see steam and there is nothing to be alarmed about.  The first few times at home, the steam and pressure settings were a little intimidating.

If you don't have one, I purchased mine off Amazon and it comes with 2 spoons and a steam rack. Another tip-before using it at school, you will want to complete a water test and become familiar with the I.P. recipe before taking it to the kids.

 I did not have access to a kitchen area during E.S.Y.  I also do not have a kitchen with my current school to be able to cook with a stove. Therefore I've been pretty creative with our cooking endeavors. I have used the following appliances in the past to make recipes in the classroom:

  • Crockpot: chili, nacho cheese, potatoes
  • Blender: shakes, smoothies
  • Griddle: pancakes, bacon, eggs, sausage
  • Waffle maker: waffles
  • Quesadilla maker: quesadillas with ham or pepperoni
  • Microwaved: 3-2-1 cake

Click on the images below to purchase on Amazon:

**All Amazon links are affiliate links.

What have you used in the past to cook recipes? What are your favorite go to recipes (edible and Non-edible)? I'd love to read in the comments below!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017


Happy 4th of July!! I hope everyone has an awesome Independence day!

Today I'm going to be sharing my first experience teaching Extended School Year (ESY).  I've never taught ESY before, but it didn't take me long to realize these are the toughest kids in the district because they need the most routine, structure, and support.

What is ESY?

ESY is a federal service for students in special education ages 3-21. ESY services vary per student depending on their needs.  They type of service, amount, and duration are determined by the IEP meeting.  Transportation is provided and services are in the LRE (Least Restricted Environment).

How do they qualify?

Students qualify for ESY based on regression and recoupment of skills based on data collected via evaluations, progress reports, observations, service logs, parent and staff input. What cannot be recouped 'during the first 8 weeks of the next school year?'

Here are 2 Google Drive forms I created.  The first one I created for my (school year) students I sent to ESY.  I created the ESY Information Form, filled it out and sent it with the box of materials for my students.  If you followed the link, you should be able to add to your drive, then modify or fill out to suite your needs.  Here's a screen shot of the download button.

Here's the form live:

Here's a sample of the information once the form is filled out.  I sent a copy of the excel sheet to the ESY teachers (in the student's box).

The second form I created was to include all the items I was sending to ESY. **sorry for the upcoming rant** I get it. You may not want to part ways with YOUR materials, YOUR resources, YOUR laminated task cards, file folders, and visuals.  The truth is....they're actually the STUDENTS' materials and resources too and they need ALL of those activities to be successful in the summer.  If you are going to make new visuals next year, send the old ones to ESY.  Sadly the things you send may not return, or be incredibly damaged...but if it helps your student be successful during ESY, they will be more successful in the fall when they return.  Don't just send 'busy work' and please, please, please, don't send worksheets when the student can barely write! **Anyways...sorry for the soap box! **
Here's the 2nd form. I added photos of all the items sent and attached it to the box so they could keep the student's things together and pack it back up easily. If you followed the link, you can also add this form to your dropbox by clicking the button that is circled below.

Here's what the live form looks like:
Here is a screen shot of my daily communication log. It's similar to my school year log, except it only has M-Th. Our summer school is Am only 4 days a week.

Daily Communication log

Overall, starting ESY has been so much fun!! It is definitely hard, but I'm getting to try new things with some kids I will be getting next year!  I've also made a quick and easy Grab&Go communication and schedule system, thanks to Christeen Reeve's clever Iris box ideas!

Grab & Go communication and schedule box
I'm getting to implement the task boxes from Especially Education.  I have also become pretty fast at playing tag with one of my 95* Texas weather and sliding down a slide! I also found a cool idea when buzzing for a janitor taped to my wall.  I always hate calling for a 'pee cleanup.' This school has codes!!!! Code 1=blood, code 2=vomit, code 3=urnine/poop, code 4=liquid. GENIUS!!!

What are your experiences with ESY? Do you have any suggesions, comments, ideas? Share them below or on social media. #spedESY